Pokemon EXtreme Event at Pokemon Center NY
PokePop (Michael Martin)

June 14, 2003

Pokémon USA heralded the launch of their first self-produced US Pokémon TCG set with a pre-release event at the Pokémon Center in New York City. The Center is adjacent to Rockefeller Center and the NBC TV studios, so there was a lot of traffic and exposure to the event. In addition to game activities that were conducted on in an atrium adjacent to the lower level of the Plaza, there was face painting, balloon-Pokémon sculptures, and a co-sponsored Radio Disney concert featuring former Dream Street artist Greg Raposo. These activities were held in the space next to the rink plaza, where earlier that morning a live concert had been broadcast live on the NBC morning show. The stage was decked out with a huge backdrop of Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire characters. Also, the Pikachu Mobile made an appearance.


Colin, James, and Jonathan prepare for a day of gaming.


Attendees of the event were steered to the second level of the Pokémon Center where they could pick up tickets for the event. They were given either "Learn to Play" tickets or "General Gameplay" tickets, depending on their experience level. Pokémon Professors such as Johnny Blaze and regulars from the Pokémon Center Pokémon Battle Zone volunteered as experts to help teach novice players as well as bring experienced players up to speed on new rules regarding such things as Retreating limits and Confusion damage.


The gameplay area where the new version of the Pokémon-e TCG was taught


Volunteers taught new players how the game worked with starter decks split into pairs or 30 card decks. After learning the game, these players were excited to jump into the regular game play area where other volunteers helped sort out the understanding of the rules, new and old, among the players. Jimmer Sivertsen, the Pokémon USA Organized Play manager was in constant motion all day long, from setting up the event, to making sure everyone had the supplies that they needed, to helping teach young players, himself.


Johnny Blaze takes a break from handing out tickets to play another volunteer


Jimmer stated that Pokémon USA would avoid stepping on the toes of Wizards of the Coast as their Organized Play wound down over the next couple of months. After that, they were gearing up their own Organized Play, although he could not get into details at this time. Jimmer ran a smooth event. You could see the result of his experience with involvement in the MagiNation TCG and as a Level 3 DCI Magic Judge. About 50 participants stopped by through the 3-hour period to learn and play the new version of the game.


Jimmer Sivertsen (center) and two of the Pokémon Center regulars that volunteered for the event.